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Lives of the Poets Paperback – October 31, 2000
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In The Waste Land he demanded to be read differently from other poets. He alters our way of reading for good, if we read him properly. The poem does not respond to analysis of its meanings--meanings cannot be detached from the texture of the poetry itself.In addition to giving the analytical part of the reader's brain a good workout, as he parses everyone from Spenser to Ashbery to Walcott, Schmidt offers up plenty of idiosyncratic opinion that will alternately raise hackles or set heads nodding in vigorous agreement. This may not be the most objective treatment of poetry to come down the pike, but it is an invaluable--and deeply entertaining--reference. --Margaret Prior --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Schmidt's style is to take several contemporary names and treat them together in a single chapter. Sometimes he gives a poet a chapter to himself (Edmund Spenser, William Blake); sometimes he deals with half a dozen at a time. The chronological approach (which he acknowledges is disdained by some in academe) works very well in providing a narrative, a sense of unfolding of poetic skill and poetic tradition.
The period up to about 1900 is beautifully done. Most of the poets whose lives and work Schmidt describes are well-known, either for their poetry, or at least as names. He includes quite a few, however, who will be familiar only to academics or real poetry buffs--Juliana Berners, Robert Manning, Mary Wroth, William Cullen Bryant. Schmidt's prose is lively and engaging, and his love for his subjects and their poetry shines through. I found myself inspired to read the poets I didn't know. I also found his discussion of the poets I did know useful--he gives a lot of biographical detail, and makes thoughtful (and sometimes acid) comments on the poetry itself. For example, he's not a big fan of Swinburne, and while he acknowledges his popularity and influence has sharp things to say about his work.
However, Schmidt's coverage of the twentieth century is less satisfying. He covers more poets (about 130) of the twentieth century than of the previous six hundred years (about 115).Read more ›
Of the eighteenth century Tory publisher and clubman Tonson, whose Kit Kat club saw writers gathering with him to eat superb pies, he remarks that it was clever of him to gather writers round him so that he could pick off their completed works like berries ripened off the bush. It is just possible, he allows, that writers and publisher actually enjoyed each other's company socially. Of the printer who bought out Milton's copyright from his widow for an additional eight pounds after a total payment of fifteen, he observes that this was a good buy.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
When you need information about any poet, you will find it here. I am very happy with my purchase.
You can read one entry or as many as you like. Read more
An OK book. Basically a reference book to consult rather than to read straight through.Published on July 6, 2014 by Paul H. Smith
This is more of a collective biography of a genre than a collection of individual biographies. It's a beautiful book for anyone who loves poetry and the souls behind some of the... Read morePublished on November 28, 2012 by Mikey C.
This book is a whopping 975 pages, and is recommended for the die-hard poetry enthusiast, especially those who are interested in the history of English poetry. Read morePublished on July 28, 2011 by Z Hayes
I can't believe I read the whole thing. You may find yourself saying the same thing too I you should so choose to tackle Schmidt's lengthy analysis on the history of English... Read morePublished on July 6, 2003 by M. Swinney
It is no small irony that Schmidt takes his title from his curmudgeonly Eighteenth Century ancestor, Samuel Johnson. Read morePublished on January 14, 2003 by Daniel Myers
Schmidt's boldness is nearly unmatched among literary critics. For this reason alone, his book, Lives of the Poets, is a stimulating read. Read morePublished on January 8, 2003
A great value, this book contains lots of fax 'n' info about the important and not-so-famous poets. Schmidt combines chronology with history and attempts a kind of psychobiography... Read morePublished on July 19, 2002 by Emberek
Should I review a book I've barely read one-fourth of?
I guess I have to, because it'll take me forever to finish it, and when I do finish it, I'll probably start over again. Read more